Release Date: Tuesday 13 September Platforms: PS4 / PC (Coming soon to Xbox One & Wii U)
Space setting? Check. Former Star Wars actor voiceover? Check. Adorable little robot that transforms into a spider? Triple check. RIVE plunges you into its world with brutal results.
From the face of it, RIVE is a 2D space-based shoot-em-up, starting you off by simply destroying a load of asteroids as they come hurtling towards your craft. Shooting a few little mine robots and some flying bat machines while picking up nuts and bolts seems easy enough. Happily hacking away to access different parts of the level and other machines. Then you soon see the true intensity of RIVE.
Faced with onslaughts of a variety of different robot enemies, your health and armour waiver and you explode into a screen of red emblazoned with the words “Game over, man” and “Just press a button already”. Almost like the game is taunting you into giving it another shot. And on the tenth time of trying the same bit of level, you’ll probably switch off. Unless of course, you hate yourself and trust the strength of your controller flying at a wall.
To say this game is a challenge is an understatement. With 12 missions to conquer, you’ll find yourself struggling by the second one. The gameplay is by no means difficult, just shoot and jump your way through the level, which is good considering there’s no tutorial or guidance in any way. This may be the games undoing. You stroll through the many mechanical mazes of RIVE, in full knowledge that it’s the right direction, but not knowing what the hell you’re doing there. The outstanding amount of enemies that can be on one screen at any time is where the challenge lies. You’re expected to know what to do for yourself from the offset, a daunting task for a new player.
It’s saving grace may be the retro setting and slight moments of quirk dotted through the dialogue. Even in the pause menu, the game logs the mental state of the pilot. “Quite tense” is what you’ll be for the majority of your time with RIVE.
For a challenge, RIVE can give you an almighty one. But if you actually like yourself and your sanity, it’s probably best to miss out.